FLYING ON 9/11 FLYING ON 9/11Posted today at 1:05 am by Duff McKagan
Flying is something that I do on a pretty regular basis. Iíve seen the heightened airport security following Sept. 11, 2001 slowly wane to a point of a near casual ease that, while still rigorous, pales in comparison to the 2 or 3 years after the brutal attacks of that black day. But today, I am flying. Today is Sept.11, 2008.
I always kiss my wife and daughters before I leave on any trip away from them. Last night I took my little girls to dinner and a movie, made special as it was a school night. This morning, I woke up and made them breakfast, then walked them to school. I held on to our parting embrace perhaps a bit longer than was comfortable to them in front of all of their cool friends, I didnít care. I hugged and kissed them like I did on day the planes were hijacked and met their horrific end. The worldís axis for all humankind seemed to have been put on a tilt that day. My family was young when the Twin Towers went down and my fear for their future at that time was beyond acute.
I donít write this particular column for the sake of my fear, of my plane to Europe going down. This is not a political piece either. I want to speak on what I have witnessed today at the airport, and how my memory was refreshed by this morningís CNN constant report of near doom that I watched before I left to the airport. I want to remember how that one event changed ALL of our lives forever. Have we made any REAL progress since then? I donít know. It probably wonít show for years to come.
Airport security today at LAX was fierce. Back were the checkpoint security stations at the entrance to the airport. Security dogs doing their collective best to sniff out bomb material as cops stopped all cars. I donít mind and I certainly understand. After ticketing at the airline counter, it was on to the scanner security station where the lines were absolutely gynormous. I donít mind, I get it. I did get a little freaked out however, when two obvious meth-head tweakers couldnít find their tickets or IDís. They were furiously looking through clear plastic garbage bags that served as their luggage. Tweakers freak me out and these two had truthfully unnerved me on this day. God, I hope they arenít on my plane. The number of TSA and LAPD was easily tripled but I sailed through ( Iím not sure how my speed-freak friends did). There seemed to be a palpable calm, not only at the security lines, but also throughout the whole airport. There seemed to be an air of understanding between everyone who were walking to his or her flight gates. There was not the usual scurrying and strangers seemed to be making eye-contact with each other, as if to say ďhey, you all good?Ē. Maybe this was all in my imagination but honestly I donít think that it was.
I boarded my flight and my first leg took me to London. As I settled down into my seat, a family came on last minute looking for their rows. A teenage boy found his place and it was right next to me.
ď I am scared to be flying on 9/11!Ē he said to me.
ďWhere are you headed?Ē I asked
ďBack home to Saudi ArabiaĒ
His name was Saud and he is a Muslim lad, going back home after visiting L.A., where his sister attends the Fashion Institute. His family wore traditional clothing from their part of the world and you could definitely tell that people on the flight were eyeing them intently throughout the flight. This is a phenomenon that I believe Saud sort of took in stride. Heís a normal kid. He likes video games, disco, and soccer. He seemed to respect me as an elder. You donít get that everyday. He showed me a program on his computer that can make your head fat or skinny on itsí self-contained camera. A nice little dude.
Talking to Saud made me realize that we ALL now are on constant alert. Gone perhaps are the days where there seemed to be just a general curiosity about other cultures. We are paranoid now. What do they think of us in Indonesia where there is a large militant Muslim faction. Who are those Muslim guerillas who kidnapped the westerners in the Phillipines back in 2003? Is there some geographic line we as Americans cannot cross because of fear for our safety? Was it there, pre 9/11?
I remember thinking of all of the Muslims that must live in the U.S. back then.
I remember wondering how many might be Taliban operatives. I donít think that I was alone. Paranoia ran rampage in the first few months on American soil. Could you blame anyone? No. This was my generationís Pearl Harbor. We were suddenly attacked by some exotic enemy from the extreme peripheral. Some Americans boycotted or vandalized Muslim owned and operated businesses. Others defaced Mosques or worse. Me? I fell into a depression like I had never experienced before, actual clinical depression. Like many of us, I sat and watched CNN for something like 2 straight weeks. When George W. came on network television and vowed revenge, I whole-heartedly backed it. Letís fuck someone up! Letís goddamn Roll! There seemed to be no other answer or solution. I wonder now what we from the West couldíve done differently to mend the chasm of misunderstanding that still remains between ĎUsí and ĎThemí? As it turns out, Sadaam was probably just another in a long line of tyrannical despotsÖbut we already new that.
Of course I landed at Heathrow airport in London without incident. I found out that perhaps we all have some form of trepidation about this momentous date. I met a new friend in Saud from Saudi Arabia, who shared with me some cool things about his life and upbringing. I probably embarrassed my 8 and 11 year-old girls in front of their friends at school earlier this morning, but I donít care. I will always remember this date for how it changed my life and strengthened my love for my family. This date will also remind me of how horrible we as human beings can be and what we are capable of at our worst.http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/2008/09/flying_on_911_flying_on_911.php